Continuing my thread of “books I can’t believe I haven’t already read,” I just finished reading Aldous Huxley’s 1931 Brave New World. I was very surprised to find parallels between this book and the last one I read I, Claudius, but I did. Both novels are about distant alien civilizations. I, Claudius is about our past and the birth of Western Civilization, and Brave New World is about our future and the death of civilization. I, Claudius is about a republic becoming a monarchy, and Brave New World is about a world political and social system that enslaves the mind to the government’s will.
Brave New World is thought-provoking and a little scary to read.
Imagine a world without families, where all children are born and raised in facilities where they are taught to be part of a strict class system. Entertainment, consumerism, and pleasure are the main pursuit of all people. Everyone partakes in the daily use of a drug called soma, which relieves its users of all emotional distresses. The chemical highs experienced from the use of this drug are referred to as “holidays.”
Above all else, individualism is looked down upon. Everyone must be happy at all times, and the only way to be happy is to spend time seeking out entertainment in the company of friends.
This novel satirizes modern civilization from all angles. It makes me despise blind consumerism, the entertainment industry, and wastefulness. It’s definitely a “look at the world you live in. Is this really what you want?” kinda story. I enjoyed this book; I like it when an author uses science fiction or fantasy to make social commentary. Science Fiction is my favorite vehicle for this. It allows authors to amplify certain aspects of our civilization and imagine what life would be like if we took things to a distant extremity.
This would not be my fist pick for a beach read. However, this is defiantly a good high school senior or college freshman read.
For fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian fiction, which has recently become all the rage, Brave New World is a must-read. It’s the granddaddy of them all.
Read this book with a friend. You will have a lot to say when you finish.